(HealthDay News) — About 1 in 20 patients with unprovoked venous thromboembolism (VTE) have occult cancer detected within 1 year, according to a review published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Nick van Es, MD, from the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam, and colleagues estimated the prevalence of occult cancer in patients with unprovoked VTE using data from 10 eligible studies with 2,316 patients.

The researchers found that after VTE diagnosis, the 12-month prevalence of cancer was 5.2%. Patients who had extensive screening had a higher point prevalence of cancer than those who had more limited screening initially (odds ratio, 2.0; 95% confidence interval, 1.2 to 3.4) but not at 12 months (odds ratio, 1.4; 95% confidence interval, 0.89 to 2.1). There was a linear increase in cancer prevalence with age, with 7-fold higher prevalence in patients aged 50 years or older vs younger patients (odds ratio, 7.1; 95% confidence interval, 3.1 to 16).

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“Although an extensive screening strategy initially may detect more cancer cases than limited screening, whether this translates into improved patient outcomes remains unclear,” the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.


van Es N, Le Gal G, Otten HS, et al. Screening for occult cancer in patients with unprovoked venous thromboembolism: a systematic review and meta-analysis of individual patient data [published August 22, 2017]. Ann Intern Med. doi:10.7326/M17-0868